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April 15, 2009

Nataraja Says Goodbye . . . Again

Eric and Emmy acquired a taste for baguettes on their first South Pacific cruise aboard Nataraja in 2000.

©2009 Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Eric Willbur and Emmy Newbould are no strangers to the South Pacific. The couple left their slip at Brickyard Cove in Pt. Richmond in September, 2007, on their second cruise to the Marquesas via Mexico. But when the engine on their Flying Dutchman 37 Nataraja made it clear its demise was imminent, Eric and Emmy, as so often happens with cruisers, changed their plans. They returned to the Bay last fall — after exploring Hawaii for several weeks on the return trip — and got to work saving up for and installing a new engine.

Last week, Eric and Emmy finally got their cruise restarted, sailing under the Golden Gate on a planned non-stop to Nuka Hiva. Unfortunately, their new engine had other plans. They had to hole up in Half Moon Bay for a few days to repair a bent alternator shaft pulley, but now that that’s done, they’re outta here.

‘The Little Yellow Boat’ flying along Tahuata in the Marquesas.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Before they left Richardson Bay, though, we couldn’t resist dropping off a bundle of Latitudes and a Puddle Jump burgee. "Since we’re ‘jumping’ non-stop from California," Emmy said, "we missed out on all the parties and didn’t get a burgee." They promise to distribute copies of the April issue to all the Puddle Jumpers they can find. Keep an eye on future Changes for updates from Nataraja.

High Winds Wreak Havoc

How about that wind yesterday? Officially, it hit 45 knots at Angel Island and SFO recorded gusts to 60. Although the wind will return to a more typical 15-25 today, small craft advisories remain in effect up and down the coast through Thursday afternoon.

The strong winds wreaked their usual havoc. Improperly wound roller furling headsails got unwound and shredded. A few boats reportedly broke free from moorings in Richardson Bay — one went ashore at Peninsula Point, and two others were recaptured while still adrift. A Corps of Engineers boat also wrangled a dead gray whale near Angel Island and anchored it near the mouth of Richardson Bay until the conditions calm and it can be towed out to sea.

The biggest wind-related excitement of the day revolved around a 70-ft fishing boat that remains wedged under the eastern end of the San Mateo Bridge. A strong gust reportedly blew the Dandy Bill off of the main channel onto the mudflats sometime yesterday afternoon. The crew called for assistance and were evacuated by the Coast Guard, but the Dandy Bill drifted into the bridge. Although it snapped off a call box and chewed up some concrete, officials maintain that it has not caused any serious damage to the bridge. That was small solace to commuters, who had to endure closed lanes both west and eastbound — the latter after winds blew a semi truck over on its side only a half hour before the boat hit. As if that wasn’t enough, two kayakers were also hoisted onto the bridge after getting in trouble in the high winds.

Officials are still trying to dislodge the fishing boat, which has partially sunk in the soft mud. Once its fuel tanks have been emptied and the tide comes in this afternoon, they hope to get a tug or some other capable craft close enough to pull it free. If that proves impossible, the Dandy Bill may have to be removed piece by piece.

Old Guys Rule!

John crosses the finish line of the ’98 Singlehanded TransPac at age 68, aboard Endangered Species.

© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

Not that we have anything against youth, but we’re strong believers that old salts with boatloads of knowledge and experience should be revered. That’s why we’ve organized a special event for tomorrow (April 16) at the Oakland YC honoring legendary solo circumnavigator John Guzzwell. It was 50 years ago that John completed his singlehanded lap around the planet aboard the 20’6" Trekka, a lightweight Laurent Giles-designed woodie, that John built with his own hands while in his early 20s. At the time of his homecoming in 1959, Trekka was the smallest boat ever to have gone around.

Like all of John’s later boatbuilding projects, little Trekka was a work of art.

© Guzzwell archives

Although everyone is welcome to attend this free event, it will also serve as a gathering of other West Coast circumnavigators and singlehanders. As anyone who’s read John’s classic book, Trekka Round the World, knows, he took time out from his own trip to crew for adventurers Miles and Beryl Smeeton on their ill-fated Cape Horn attempt. Tomorrow night John will present Southern Ocean film footage shot shortly before the Smeetons’ boat, Tzu Hang, pitchpoled. In addition to a lifetime of adventures on the water, in recent years John completed two Singlehanded TransPacs aboard another self-built boat, Endangered Species.

We’re sure this will be both a fun and informative evening, so we hope you’ll join us in raising a glass to one of West Coast sailing’s living legends. Where & when: Oakland YC in Alameda; no-host bar at 6:30 p.m.; presentation at 7:00 p.m. The event is free, although donations toward expenses will be happily accepted. The venue is only a few minutes drive from the Strictly Sail Pacific boat show, which runs through Sunday at Jack London Square.

The Singlehanded Sailing Society’s Season keeps ramping up, with the Corinthian Race drawing a record turnout just months after the Three Bridge Fiasco did the same.
Like the rest of the world, we’d like to salute Captain Richard Phillips of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, for the selflessness and courage he demonstrated by giving himself up to Somalia pirates so his crew could go free.
Five people were killed and seven others were badly injured aboard a 22-ft Crownline powerboat after it slammed into a small docked tugboat early Sunday evening on the IntraCoastal Waterway about 25 miles south of Jacksonville, Florida.